If you heard of ‘the exploding’ electronic cigarette, you’d know that e-cigarettes can be dangerous whether you are pregnant or not! E-cigarettes carry most of the harmful effects of tobacco. And if you are a regular smoker who wishes to smoke electronic cigarettes during pregnancy, you should consider reading our post below. Here, we take a look at the risks and side effects of electronic cigarettes and pregnancy.
What Is An Electronic Cigarette?
An electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) is a device that operates on a battery. It contains three main components – a cartridge, a vaporizer and a battery. The cartridge contains nicotine. The vaporizer creates the vapor that the user inhales. The battery powers the device. The cartridge may also contain other flavoring agents.
The design of e-cigarettes resembles that of traditional cigarettes. Often, e-cigarettes are long and thin but nowadays these are also available in various other fancy designs. These devices even glow at one end when in use. The smoke, which is released by its use, is vapor.
E-cigarettes come in disposal and rechargeable designs. In the latter, you can recharge the battery and refill the cartridge. Using the e-cigarette is often referred to as ‘vaping’ (1).
[ Read: Smoking During Pregnancy ]
Is It Safe To Use Electronic Cigarettes During Pregnancy?
No! It is not safe to use electronic cigarettes while pregnant. While you may be ‘vaping’ instead of ‘smoking’, but the risks of e-cigarettes remain. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, and using them during pregnancy can affect fetal health in many ways. It may help you to remember that e-cigarettes may not produce smoke, but they still contain nicotine (2).
- Nicotine in any form is harmful to users. Nicotine in e-cigarettes produces the same effects and withdrawal symptoms as in traditional cigarettes. When you are pregnant, the use of e-cigarettes may harm your baby. There is no safety level of tobacco/nicotine use during pregnancy. Even if the level of nicotine in e-cigarettes may be lower than traditional cigarettes, it may still be high for your growing fetus (3).
- Nicotine is a harmful substance to use during pregnancy even in low amounts. Pregnant women are even advised to not use nicotine products like gum and patches that are approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So, the intake of nicotine through e-cigarettes is potentially damaging to the fetal health. Also, you need to keep in mind that these products in no way are approved to use during pregnancy (4).
[ Read: Drugs During Pregnancy ]
Effects Of Nicotine And Tobacco Use During Pregnancy:
Here are some ways nicotine/tobacco is harmful to use during pregnancy.
- Pregnant women who use smokeless tobacco (chewing leaves, snuffing ground tobacco powder) have a higher risk than normal for delivering preterm babies or babies with significant lower birth weights (5).
- Maternal use of tobacco can cause significant neurobehavioral damage to the fetus. If you use nicotine during pregnancy, it can damage motor and cognitive abilities of your child in his infancy. Such in utero nicotine exposure also causes many behavioral problems in children as they get older (6).
- In utero tobacco exposure also puts children in the high-risk group of individuals who may develop a smoking habit later in life (7).
- Maternal nicotine use may cause fetal brain cell damage and adversely affect the development of their nervous system.
- Smoking tobacco is also associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS means no definite cause of infant death can be determined.
- Smoking tobacco is also known to increase the risks of fetal birth defects such as clefts in the lips and the palate (8).
- Tobacco use increases the risks of miscarriage.
- Use of nicotine in any form may even be fatal for the fetus.
- Smoking depletes fetal oxygen supply. It also harms placental health (9).
- Maternal smoking also affects long-term health of their children. In utero tobacco exposure can cause allergies, childhood hypertension, asthma, obesity and Type-1 Diabetes later in life (10).
[ Read: Second-Hand Smoke During Pregnancy ]
Risks Of Using Electronic Cigarettes During Pregnancy:
If you are pregnant, tobacco use can harm your baby’s health in. To think e-cigarettes are harmless or less harmful is a mistake. And when you are pregnant, you can’t afford such a grave mistake.
Research on use and harmful effects of e-cigarettes is ongoing. But preliminary research suggests that nicotine use through e-cigarettes may produce similar (even if less) harmful effects of the substance.
Here are some possible risks from smoking electronic cigarettes during pregnancy:
- E-cigarettes measurements for nicotine are unreliable. Depending on the brand of your e-cigarette, it may also contain additional flavoring or herbs that may be harmful to you and your developing baby (11).
- The use of nicotine through e-cigarettes may produce the same harmful effects on fetal health as other tobacco products – be it traditional cigarettes or smokeless tobacco items. In fact, with e-cigarettes, you may feel you are not taking in much nicotine and in turn may smoke more (12).
- Some women may use e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. But, the FDA has not yet approved such use. It may be an alternative for those who are trying to quit smoking. But if you are pregnant, you can’t risk in utero nicotine exposure in any form (13).
- Apart from nicotine, e-cigarettes also contain carcinogenic substances like acetaldehyde and formaldehyde and traces of toxic metals like lead and nickel. Again, the amount of these toxins in e-cigarettes may be less than traditional cigarettes. The important thing to remember is that these toxins are present in e-cigarettes.
- The vapor from e-cigarettes may be harmful. It contains traces of nicotine and other substances but there is yet no definite research on the extent of harmful effects of this vapor. This lack of research makes vapor from e-cigarettes even more dangerous to fetal health as you may not know how it may be harming your child.
If you are pregnant, the wise thing to do is to avoid tobacco use in any form. Also, keep yourself safe from secondhand cigarette smoke and e-cigarette vapors as these are also harmful to your baby.
The best thing to do is to quit tobacco use in any form if you are planning your pregnancy. Even if your pregnancy is unplanned and you use e-cigarettes or tobacco in form, quit immediately.
[ Read: Marijuana During Pregnancy ]
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